The Artist’s Path: What are Other Artists Doing?

With a new commitment to engage actively with my art community and to see what other contemporary artists are doing on a local and national level, in this blog post I talk about two art shows that not only have re-affirmed for me that art is a legitimate tool for engagement but, also, made me question my own path as a professional fine artist.

Artist: Penny Santy

Artist: Penny Santy

The first opening I attended was at The Tech Garden in Syracuse, New York on Thursday September 22 at 5:00 p.m. to see We Can Be Heroes: Visualizing the Life & Music of David Bowie. This show was created by The Tech Garden’s artist-in-residence, Steve Nyland with the premise that he needed to be consoled for the loss of his idol, the music legend, David Bowie. Although Nyland has lost faith in using conventional PR channels, his call for artwork through social media and word-of-mouth received a good response from artists residing in Central New York with the outstanding number of 95 pieces, and with one artwork from England and one from the Philippines. The Tech Garden, which function as an incubator for promising technological enterprises, is a very modern one level building which was originally a garage (thetechgarden).

The Tech Garden’s hallway is long, tall and not too narrow, with an art gallery wall system that allows for easy installation. The opening for We Can Be Heroes was a true success. Many people came by to enjoy the art, the live music playing David Bowie’s hits by Parlor Games, the refreshments, and the social aspect. The amount of artwork depicting David Bowie as an icon was impressive, and it was almost odd to see the few pieces that were purely inspired by his music. When you walk down the hallway of The Tech Garden, no matter if you are a fan or not, you won’t be able to ignore the positive energy, a heartfelt commemoration of David Bowie’s life as an artist who influenced many generations during his five decades of music career (Wikipedia).

The beauty of an open call versus a juried call is that it gives the viewer an art salon style experience and it gives the artists a chance not only to showcase their work but an opportunity to make important connections to foster their art career.

We Can Be Heroes: Visualizing the Life & Music of David Bowie is open until December 2, 2016. Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5.p.m at The Gallery at The Tech Garden located at 235 Harrison St. Syracuse NY.

Through the half drowned stars. Oil, ink and synthetic resin on canvas, 66" x 90", 2015.

Through the half drowned stars. Oil, ink and synthetic resin on canvas, 66" x 90", 2015.

The second art opening I visited was at Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, on Friday, September 23, to see Angela Fraleigh: Between Tongue and Teeth. The museum, which was built by the famous architect I. M. Pei in 1965, is a piece of art of its own right and experiencing it both from the outside and from the inside is always quite impressive to the eye (everson). Angela Fraleigh is a professor at the Moravian College and “currently lives and works in New York, NY and Allentown, PA, and this is her 1st major solo show in a museum (angelafraleigh). Between Tongue and Teeth, is a painting exhibition that include 30 paintings created by the artists in the span of ten years. The art is located in the upper floor of the museum in the Coyne Gallery and the Memorial Gallery. Fraleigh’ paintings are provocative because she re-interprets “women's roles in art history, literature, and contemporary media” (everson).

Angela Fraleigh, Carried by Voices, 2014, oil and 23kt gold leaf and alkyd on canvas.

What makes her pieces stand out is not only the great size, which Fraleigh explains in a video on her website allows her paintings to go from personal to political, but the artist’s mastery of mixing classical figuration with contemporary and modern elements. I think Fraleigh’s creative process expresses her ability to push her limits by alternating from controlled painting techniques to hazardous and experimental ones. Creating a classical painting is time consuming; yet, Fraleigh fearlessly will set her pieces horizontally to add these paint pours giving chance a big role in the final composition. Along with the large scale paintings, the artist created for this exhibition intimate portraits and sculptures depicting women that played an important role with their art or activism in central New York (everson). Director and CEO of the Everson Museum of Art, Elizabeth Dunbar curated this astounding solo exhibition which will run until December 31 of 2016. You can visit the museum located at 401 Harrison Street, Syracuse NY on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 5.00 p.m.; on Thursday from noon to 8.00 p.m.; and on Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (everson).

The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell. Oil and silver metal leaf on linen, 90" x 66", 2015.

My take away from these two contrasting shows, We Can Be Heroes: Visualizing the Life & Music of David Bowie and Angela Fraleigh: Between Tongue and Teeth, is that, in different ways, personally confirmed how art can be a powerful tool for engagement and made me appreciate the richness of the arts that we have in the New York region. Additionally, they made me question my own path as a professional fine artist. After the creation of my community-based exhibition Trees of Onondaga, which was funded by the Individual Artist Grant commissioned by CNY Arts, I faced a creative dilemma.

Let me explain: I am an active user of Instagram, a social media platform that uses images and hashtags to connect people with businesses, and I've witnessed this distinctive separation among what I call commercial artists, entrepreneurs who create art to be sold directly to their audience, and the traditional artists, who strictly use the art world channels to achieve recognition and success by showcasing their masterpieces in fancy art galleries and museums. And here I am, stuck in the middle of these two pathways. Dwelling both ways; yet, truly unsure which way to confidently go. Of course, I know there is no real right or wrong answer. and time and more hints from the universe will eventually help me figure out the direction I want to take with my art path.

On my next blog post I will talk about how the branding of artists and art institutions play a crucial role in shaping the art market.

Work Cited

‘About.” Angela Fraleigh. N.p. 2016. Web. 23 Sep. 2016.

“About.” Everson Museum of Art. Everson, 2016. Web. 23 Sep. 2016.

“Current Exhibition.” Everson Museum of Art. Everson, 2016. Web. 23 Sep. 2016.

“David Bowie.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. MediaWiki, 2016. Web. 23 Sep.